MISSISSIPPI (WDAM) - The Mississippi Attorney General is urging residents who suffered property damage during Hurricane Nate to watch out for scams.
Attorney General Jim Hood said residents need to be on alert for tree cutters who may be scammers.
"Unfortunately, we saw homeowners who were scammed by tree cutters and repairmen after Hurricane Katrina, especially those from out of state, so we are reminding people what to look out for when they are in a position of needing to rebuild or fix their home," said General Hood. "There are plenty of honest and ethical business people out there, but the sad truth is that there is another side to it. Our team of investigators will be in coastal communities providing tips and form contracts to make sure that people do not fall victim to these acts."
Here are some tips to protect you and your loved ones from fraudulent tree cutters, roofers, and others:
- Verify that the company you are considering is insured. Ask for a copy of the certificate of insurance.
- Do your research. Contact our Consumer Protection Division or the Better Business Bureau of Mississippi to see if they have complaints against the company. Ask for several local references, and make sure to follow through on checking them. Look online at reviews of their work.
- Take time to shop around, and be suspicious of any price that seems unusually high or low. Get written estimates from more than one company, and check with friends or family who’ve had tree work done recently to see what they paid and who they recommend.
- Ask how the job will be done and if they will perform the work according to industry standards. For tree removal services, pay attention to the “lingo” such as “topping a tree,” “lion’s-tailing” or “using climbing spikes to prune a tree.” Sometimes these techniques will be presented as a way to save money by removing more of the tree at one time; however, these practices can injure or kill trees, and trees pruned by one of these methods usually requires more expensive restoration work in the future in order to save it.
- Ask about post-job clean up and debris removal. Before the job is started, ask if the company will remove the tree, damaged roof, or other items from your property as well. If you don’t, it could lead to you having to also pay for debris removal.
More information on home repair fraud can be found at www.agjimhood.com.
If home repair fraud is suspected, contact the AG's Consumer Protection Division at (601) 359-4230 or (800) 281-4418.